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Sweet Relief 

On their new album, local indie band Mon Chéri is comfortable in its own skin.

click to enlarge Mon Cheri (from left): Patrick McHenry, Brandon Vasquez, Caroline Francis, Kurt Olson
  • Mon Cheri (from left): Patrick McHenry, Brandon Vasquez, Caroline Francis, Kurt Olson

It’s called Swoon — and a more perfect word could not be chosen to describe the sound and aesthetic of Mon Chéri, a band that caught Spokane’s eye three years ago with its woozy, sugar-coated vocals and seemingly infinite supply of smiles and party dresses. But Swoon, the band’s new album, shows more than just that googly-eyed side of this band. It’s filled with toe-tapping, upbeat numbers, but also songs that wrestle with heartache, or lament change — hell, there’s even a song with a line about shooting someone in the head. As they age a little, Spokane’s musical darlings seem to have gotten a lot edgier, packing Swoon with more thick, warm rock tracks than love ditties.

With the album ready for release, we got on the phone with drummer Brandon Vasquez to talk about near-death experiences, the importance of showers and recording Swoon with a Grammy winner.

INLANDER: Tell us a little bit about Swoon.

VASQUEZ: We decided to go with Kory Kruckenberg on this one, in Seattle. So throughout the winter, we kept going back and forth on free weekends to record, which was kind of tough going over the pass with a trailer. We were coming back from Seattle once and it was snowing pretty hard and … we basically started going sideways on the interstate. Luckily Patrick was able to get control. We were scared the rest of the way. It took us about 8 or 9 hours to get home.

Call me crazy, but this album seems a lot more rocking than past stuff…

Yeah, that was the natural evolution of the band. Once Kurt [Olson] and I joined, we basically learned all of the songs we were playing on Colors of Love. Over the last couple of years, we’ve evolved into… I don’t want to say a rock band, but we enjoy sprinkling some more rocking tunes through the set. All of the songs we voted to go on this album were a little more rock ’n’ roll than what we’ve done in the past.

How was recording with Kruckenberg?

He is a wonderful person and very easygoing. We were super-pumped for him when he won [a Grammy]. It’s really exciting to say that we’ve worked with a Grammy-winning producer.

Last summer Mon Chéri was featured on MTV’s Needle in a Haystack blog. What did that end up meaning for the band?

[Laughs.] We’re not really sure, except that we can say that we were featured on an MTV blog.

What do you guys have planned for the future?

We have a really busy summer. In mid- to late-July we have about 10 or 11 days that we’re going to try to take a tour down to LA.

Is it hard to play in cities where people have no idea who you are?

We were definitely nervous last year about going out because there are so many variables that can work against you. If you think you’ve booked a good show at a good venue, you don’t know how the turnout is going to be. Money is always an issue. Where you’re going to stay, how you’re going to stay sanitary.

Yeah, cleanliness seems pretty key to the Mon Chéri image — how do you make that work on the road?

I definitely think we’re all very into our personal hygiene. In the car we might not look the greatest, [but] we get out at the venue and we at least try to make sure we look nice. Brush our hair, put on a nice shirt. Caroline always wears a dress no matter what. Even if we haven’t showered that day, we try to look clean.

Mon Chéri releases Swoon with special guests Troubadour, featuring Kevin Long • Fri, June 10, at 7 pm • Bing Crosby Theater • $10; $15, admission and album • brownpapertickets.com • 227-7638

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